Until recently, I hesitated to call myself an artist. Despite my fine arts degree and general knack for making things, it seemed that as long as my job title was just "graphic designer," that's all I was. Over the last year, I got especially bored with relying on technology to dictate my creativity, so I decided to make a change. I added to my already-huge art supply collection and started doing more with my hands. I ordered book-after-book on Amazon with DIY art and craft projects, hand lettering instruction books, guides with different image transfer and printing techniques. I finally taught myself some decent drawing skills and accepted my style as an illustrator (i.e. sort of mediocre and not exactly realistic). I learned how to make paper and create my own stamps. My quiver is now full of new creative techniques and I finally feel like a real artist. I truly feel C R E A T I V E. Not to mention that I have a lot more fun designing now.
So, this brings me to the question of: what's the difference between doing design and actually being creative? This may be borderline controversial, but I don't think it will break too many hearts. With things Adobe Creative Cloud, Lynda.com, online design certifications, heck, even videos on YouTube...anyone can learn to manipulate a photo and rearrange letters and shapes and color it with the default CMYK swatches and call themselves a designer. Websites like fiverr.com and 99designs.com devalue the true creativity that is meant to accompany good design. After my recent artistic epiphany, I feel better about where I stand in the design world. I feel that those of us creatives who are truly creative will always have an advantage over those who lack the passion and commitment to proper design.
All of this being said, words like "design" and "creativity" and "artist" and even the word "good" are all subjective. that's what makes the creative world so unique. But I think the point is that you just have to be as awesome as you can at what you do. Or something.